Plans afoot to fully digitise Vizag port to ease third-country trade

Kathmandu, February 20

Stakeholders are preparing to digitise the Vishakhapatnam (Vizag) port in a bid to facilitate Nepal’s third-country trade.

The Ministry of Commerce (MoC) is holding discussions with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Vizag port authorities and the Indian government to fully digitise trade procedures at Vizag and discourage paper work.

“Stakeholder discussions on digitising the Vizag port have been positive so far. However, ample groundwork has to be done to execute this plan,” informed Rabi Shankar Saiju, spokesperson for MoC, adding that the MoC and the port authorities have already started groundwork to digitise trading via Vizag port.

A stakeholders’ meeting on Sunday had concluded about digitising the Vizag port. As per Saiju, MoC has already started the process of developing required software and digital data base of Nepal’s third-country trade via Vizag.

“We expect to switch all trading activities via Vishakhapatnam port to digital soon,” said Saiju.

Such paper-less trading is expected to ease the country’s trade via Vizag port, promote cargo movement via the port and ensure trading accountability.

The primary beneficiaries of digital trading will be domestic traders who are obliged to undergo a lengthy and chaotic document procedure at the port.

Against this backdrop, traders dealing with Nepal’s third-country trade have said that the government should also digitise different other ports along with the Vizag port.

“Such digital trading system is a must to make Nepal’s trade competitive. Digitising Vizag port will certainly encourage traders and shipping liners to carry out third-country trade via Vizag port,” a trader said seeking anonymity.

Nepal’s third-country trade through Vizag port was started in June, 2016 as an optional port and there were plans to gradually divert the traffic of Nepal-bound cargo that is concentrated in Kolkata/Haldia. However, Vizag has not been able to attract traders and shipping liners as expected earlier despite the hassles and unforeseen costs like detention and demurrage charges of shipping line containers in Kolkata.

However, MoC officials believe that digitising the Vizag port will certainly attract traders to carry out third-country trade via Vizag.